Warrior Words: In defense of the door-to-door solicitor

For the past two weeks and the next two weeks to come, I have been and will continue to be the person who almost everyone hates. No, I don’t go about my day full of spite and intentionally cause others to suffer or mean any harm in what I do. Instead I harmlessly walk from door to door asking people to sign a piece of paper. I am a campaigner; suspend your disgust.

Over the course of the job, I have had the opportunity to meet a variety of people and experience a diverse set of responses ranging from welcoming me inside to quite audibly locking the door after I knock and walking away. From these encounters I have come to understand how different all the people living in Wilton truly are and I can now appreciate the work done by the men and women for whom we all hold an unreasonably great amount contempt: canvassers, solicitors, and campaigners.

One goes into the job knowing that everyone else considers you a nuisance, which is why it is not only refreshing, but relieving to see a smiling face open the door after I knock. Often people will consider the motto “one smile can brighten someone’s whole day” to be bologna, but I can attest to its veritability. And while many of you probably think that what you say or do is meaningless because you are just another name on a long list, that is not true. As such, I can distinctly remember the houses with people who engaged me in pleasant conversation or made jokes, and the jogger who paused her phone call to advise me which street would be the best to head down. I have received authentic kindness in a position where I am nothing but an inconvenience, which is beyond any expectation I had.

Unfortunately, there are also those of whom who are, in my opinion, exceptionally and unnecessarily rude, who scold me for approaching their doors or make a point of showing they don’t want me there. For every warm welcome I receive, I can expect sour words and a nasty glare to balance out my luck.

This is not to say that everyone should open his or her door to a stranger or that there is an obligation to listen to the solicitor’s personal spiel, because in one’s own home, everyone has the right to safety and peace of mind. I simply implore you to rethink your distaste towards the door-to-door salesman and petitioner. It is unpleasant enough to have to read a news article on Good Morning Wilton about people complaining to the police regarding “suspicious peddlers” and “bothersome solicitations” without people making that point clear in person. And though, as in any profession, there may be a few who poorly represent the occupation and do not respect others’ privacy as they approach others’ homes, this minority should not reflect on everyone in the business or inform how you treat the next person who walks up to your door. Kindness is uncommon but appreciated. But respect is not a virtue, it is an expectation. Let us not forgo common decency to spite those who we dislike. Instead, treat everyone with at least the minimum amount of respect deserved of a person trying to do his or her job, be it a cashier, family friend, or that pesky, unwanted, overly enthusiastic door-to-door solicitor.

Tor Aronson is a senior at Wilton High School. He shares this column with five classmates.